Tuesday marks the renewal of a heated rivalry in the Eastern Conference as the New York Knicks travel to Boston to face the Celtics. The Celtics will face an uphill battle against a red-hot Knicks team that has won four straight games, as it was reported by the Boston Globe that Kevin Garnett may be out for as many as two weeks.
As the team's leading rebounder and second-leading scorer behind Paul Pierce, Garnett is a huge source of production that the Celtics will have to find a way to replace.
One of those sources could very well be power forward Jeff Green, who will reportedly start in place of Garnett. After missing last season with a heart condition, Green has been a steady contributor for the Celtics this season. He has averaged 11.7 points per game while averaging only 26 minutes played.
However, Green made arguably his biggest splash of his career last week when he dropped 43 points and added seven rebounds and four blocks in a game where he almost single-handedly took down the Miami Heat, who at the time had won 22 straight games. The Heat won 105-103, but Green proved to his team and to the Boston fans that he is a force to be reckoned with.
Another player from Boston that could make a difference in Garnett's absence is Chris Wilcox. While Wilcox has not started a game this year and has appeared in only 49 games, his player-efficiency rating stands at 15.4, which is the fifth best on the team. PER is a formula that is designed to measure a player's contributions to his team statistically.
The Celtics desperately need to defend their home court during the final stretch of the season. The Celtics are currently seventh in the Eastern Conference standings, only two games ahead of the eighth-place Milwaukee Bucks. That eight seed is almost surely a death sentence this year, as the Heat are poised to take the top seed in the playoffs and right now are one of the hottest teams in NBA history.
It is probably smart to rest Garnett though, as the Celtics are almost assured a playoff spot, and there is no need to put additional stress on Garnett's body as the playoffs approach.
The Celtics and Knicks are currently tied at one apiece in the season series this year, but Tuesday's matchup is the first of two games between these two teams in the next five days.